Nwosu, Laloko rue Super Eagles absence at AFCON in Gabon

Nigeria's squad (back L-R) defender Kenneth Omeruo, defender Elderson Uwa Echiejile, goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi, defender Leon Balogun, defender William Troost-Ekong, midfielder John Obi Mikel, (L-R) midfielder Victor Moses, midfielder Ogenyi Onazi, forward Oghenekaro Etebo, forward Alex Iwobi and forward Kelechi Iheanacho pose for a group picture ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup African zone group B qualifying football match between Nigeria and Algeria at the Akwa Ibom State Stadium in Uyo on November 12, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / PIUS UTOMI EKPEI

Nigeria’s squad (back L-R) defender Kenneth Omeruo, defender Elderson Uwa Echiejile, goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi, defender Leon Balogun, defender William Troost-Ekong, midfielder John Obi Mikel, (L-R) midfielder Victor Moses, midfielder Ogenyi Onazi, forward Oghenekaro Etebo, forward Alex Iwobi and forward Kelechi Iheanacho pose for a group picture ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup African zone group B qualifying football match between Nigeria and Algeria at the Akwa Ibom State Stadium in Uyo on November 12, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / PIUS UTOMI EKPEI

Former captain of the Super Eagles, Henry Nwosu, said that the continent will miss the opposition the Super Eagles would have brought into the African Cup of Nation (AFCON) if it had qualified.

The 31st edition of AFCON got underway yesterday in Gabon, as the three-time African champions, Nigeria, failed to qualify for the biggest African football fiesta, after Egypt picked the sole ticket.

Speaking to The Guardian yesterday, Nwosu said Eagles style of play, the team’s followership and the threat they would have posed, would be missing at the tournament.

“I know our absence at the AFCON will be talked about in Gabon. The competition will miss our unique style of football and the followership. Our supporters club would have added fun to the tournament had the Eagles qualified.

“I played in the 1980, ’82 ’84 and ’88 AFCONs and I know how the atmosphere looks like during each tournament. I know how other countries will feel not seeing one of the best at the Nations Cup,” he said.

However, the former Technical Director of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Kashimawo Laloko, expressed sadness that the Super Eagles are not in Gabon. To him, if a country like Uganda is there why not Nigeria, one of giants of African football.

“We have no reason not to be in Gabon right now. If we had done the right things I do not see any reason why we should not be there. How do you explain a situation where players who never featured in any AFCON competition will be allowed to appear in matches as tough as the AFCON qualifiers? You can imagine a competition that features nations like Uganda and we are not there I feel sad.

“Also, some of our players who would have exposed themselves to other coaches and players would not have the opportunity to do so. Our FIFA rating will go down since they will depend on the tournament for next month’s rating. So, the likelihood of us going down in the rating is there.

“As I speak to you, I do not have any interest in watching the AFCON matches and I believe a lot of Nigerians feel the same way since their national team will not be there.

“It is unfortunate that one of the best footballing nations on the continent will not be at AFCON, and it is not because we do not have the players. We have the players that can qualify us for every tournament. That is why I do not support any coach to be left alone in handling our national team,” he said.

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